Operators And Attorney Of Global Multimillion-Dollar Cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme “AirBit Club” Sentenced To Prison
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today that MICHAEL BONANNO was arrested and charged in Manhattan federal court with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in connection with a scheme to use stolen bank account numbers to make payments on BONANNO’s credit card and home mortgage accounts. BONANNO was arrested at his home this morning and will be presented today before Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Michael Bonanno, who was at the time a detective in the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers unit, and his co-conspirator used victims’ bank account numbers in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from New Yorkers. In so doing, Bonanno betrayed the public that he swore to protect. I commend the FBI and the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD for their outstanding work in this investigation.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Plain and simple, Michael Bonanno allegedly used other people’s money to pay off his debts while simultaneously serving as a police officer, charged with investigating criminal wrongdoing. We don’t allow the general public to get away with these types of crimes, and we won’t allow members of the law enforcement community to get away with them either.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “I want to commend the dedicated investigators in the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau and the FBI as well as the prosecutors in the Southern District whose tireless efforts on this corruption case exposed the criminal activity alleged in this arrest.”
According to the allegations in the Complaints unsealed today in Manhattan federal court: []
BONANNO is a NYPD detective and was a member of the NYPD Crime Stoppers unit, which receives and investigates anonymous tips about criminal activity from members of the community.
From November 2016 to March 2017, BONANNO and a co-conspirator stole and attempted to steal money from the bank accounts of multiple New York residents by making unauthorized wire transfers from victims’ bank accounts to accounts controlled by BONANNO, and by cashing fraudulent checks written from victims’ accounts into an account controlled by BONANNO.
In total, BONANNO and his co-conspirator attempted approximately $1,457,642 in fraudulent wire transfers from victims’ accounts to BONANNO’s accounts, and deposited approximately $68,900 worth of forged checks into BONANNO’s accounts.
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BONANNO, 44, of Staten Island, New York, has been charged with one count of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, each of which carries a sentence of 30 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the FBI and NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau in this investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicolas Roos and Danielle R. Sassoon are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.